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College Football Playoff Scenarios Ahead of the Conference Championships

November 30, 2021

No two-loss team has ever made the College Football playoff. Let that sink in as we prepare for this coming weekend’s conference championship games. No. 1 Georgia faces No. 4 Alabama in the SEC title game and if the Bulldogs win Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide would have two losses. Would ‘Bama still make it? 

One thing is certain. Expect the unexpected especially if there is any chaos come Saturday. Here’s a look at how the CFP might play out.

 

Win & In

There is really no question in certain cases. Should Georgia win on Saturday, the Bulldogs are a lock to be the top seed in the CFP. A Big Ten championship puts Michigan in the top four and an AAC title should – emphasis on should – put Cincinnati in the mix. 

If Alabama pulls the upset over Georgia, the Tide would be in. The question then would be if the committee would take the Bulldogs.

 

Win & Get Help

No. 5 Oklahoma State is 11-1 and will play Baylor for the Big 12 championship. The Cowboys have a very impressive resume with four wins – five if they beat the Bears – over Top 25 ranked teams. Head coach Mike Gundy’s team will need some help though to break into the top four.

The best-case scenario for the Cowboys is for Cincinnati to lose the AAC championship game to Houston or Michigan to lose to Iowa in the Big Ten title game. In either case, the Wolverines or the Bearcats would fall out of the top four leaving the Cowboys to move up. 

A loss by Alabama to Georgia in the SEC title game would also likely put the Cowboys into the top four. Remember, the Tide would have two losses should they fall to the Bulldogs on Saturday. A Big 12 champion Oklahoma State would replace Alabama in the top four. 

The nightmare scenario for the Cowboys is this. Cincy and Michigan win their conference championships. Alabama beats Georgia in a closely contested SEC championship game. Maybe it even goes to overtime. In that case, the SEC champion Crimson Tide would be in and, knowing the CFP committee’s affinity for the SEC, Georgia would probably make it as well. 

 

Notre Dame – No Way

The only likely scenario where 11-1 Notre Dame gets a sniff at the CFP is if Georgia, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma State all lose. Otherwise, the Fighting Irish are off to a New Year’s Six bowl game. Their schedule wasn’t all that impressive and neither were many of their wins. Plus, there is the loss to Cincinnati hanging over their domed heads.

 

The Case for the Two-Loss Tide

It just doesn’t seem likely, but there is no question that the CFP committee leans toward the SEC. It is a great conference and there is no doubt that Georgia and Alabama are among the best teams in the country. That said, is there any way Alabama makes the top four with two losses?

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The best case for a two-loss Crimson Tide starts first with how they lose the SEC championship. It would have to be close game, one in which they would have a chance to win late. Maybe Georgia wins on a last-second field goal, for example.

Then, Michigan, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma State all lose their respective conference championship games. At that point, the committee can argue that Alabama belongs. If any of those three teams win their title game, that argument doesn’t stand.